Living in Minneapolis · Neighborhood Tours

Highland Park Neighborhood St. Paul

I suffer from nostalgia and I’m a sucker for charming old homes and neighborhoods that remind me of movie sets. And that’s why I feel squishy inside when I spend time in Highland Park in St. Paul.  It’s a condition, don’t mock me!  

Types of homes

The Highland Park neighborhood of St Paul is right next to the MacGroveland neighborhood and shares so many of the same characteristics.  The homes are here older and filled with all of that original charm. St. Paul was settled before Minneapolis and the housing stock there reflects it in many areas.

Many of the homes were built in the early 1900’s and often have original hard wood floors, beautiful wide wood moldings, built-ins, plaster walls, detached garages and other features of homes built at that time. Another feature that I love on old homes that you’ll often see here are porches where you can sit and enjoy the gorgeous weather that we have here spring through fall. I think porches and sidewalks encourage a sense of community and give opportunities to see and talk to neighbors. 

As you enter the neighborhood from the west on Ford Parkway you’ll notice a large construction site which is a planned community / new construction development, so if you want the city lifestyle and access but AREN’T interested in old homes, this can be a great option for you. It’s called Highland Bridge and its a couple of different developments including row homes and a senior living development, community park, shops and restaurants. This won’t be where you find a bargain –  row homes are at the upper end of the pricing for this part of St. Paul at $1.5M+, there are also custom single family homes being built with lot prices starting at around $500K.

Amenities

One of the things I like about city living is the access to sidewalks and bike lanes as well as the ability to get to restaurants parks and shops relatively easily, on foot, on bike, or in a vehicle. Highland Park is home to all of these things, it has a robust commercial area so you won’t need to go far to grab a bite or do some shopping and recreation is convenient as well, it has a golf course, and  easy access to the massive park system along the Mississippi River with all of the bike trails that run throughout (72 miles along the Mississippi rover alone!) and connect to so many local and regional trails in the Minneapolis St Paul region. 


Another stand out to me was the local library branch and the Highland Park Rec Center which offers Highland Park Community Center offers educational programs, after school activities, open gymtot-times, family events, fitness center memberships, youth and adult athleticsS’more Fun childcare, Highland Park Community Center Theatre, field rentalsrental space for parties, meetings, and events, and so much more.

Home prices

The average home price in Highland Park for the typical house is a little more than $441K, its charming neighbor, MacGroveland is just a little bit more from an average home price perspective. 

Access

This neighborhood also has easy access to both Minneapolis and St. Paul for work – as well as the freeways that lead to the South, SW and SE suburbs, or anywhere that you want to go within the metro area. Typically if you work on one side of the river you try to live on that side for easy commuting, but I think Highland Park benefits from a great central location from a commuting perspective.  Light rail is also within 1 mile of the neighborhood and there is a bus system in St. Paul.

It seems like one of the big benefits of the suburbs would be easy access to stores like Target, and Highland Park actually has an adorable little Target in their main commercial area off of Ford Parkway & Cleveland. 

Shopping

Groceries are within easy reach at the Target, Lunds and Byerlys or a short drive to Kowalskis. 

Schools

Children living in this area will attend St. Paul public schools Horace Mann Elementary, Highland Park Middle School, and Highland Park Senior High.

Whether you like historic homes with that old fashioned charm or you’re looking for new construction urban townhomes, this neighborhood has both, along with all the things that people choose city living for. 

Living in Minneapolis

Snow School!

I routinely help people move to MN from out of state and because nearly every state is south of us, warmer than us, and doesn’t have quite the winter that we do, most people aren’t mentally or physically prepared for winter here in MN. I sense a lot of excitement, but also fear?

In this video I’m taking you to SNOW SCHOOL and giving you the tips that you’ll need to get through winter comfortably and safely! 

Let me reassure you that people in MN aren’t some mutant breed, we aren’t the huskies of the human race that want to roll around in ice in summer. We just like seasons and recognize that winter is one of them, and have found ways to make it comfortable, safe and doable. In this video I’m taking you to SNOW SCHOOL and giving you the tips that you’ll need to get through winter comfortably and safely! 

Winter and snow can be downright magical if you can sit inside a warm house with a cup of coffee and a fire blazing watching it fall from the sky.  But eventually you have to leave the house.  I’m going to start off with how to DRESS for winter here and I’ll do another video on other considerations like driving in it, managing it around your home and preparing your actual house for winter as well as staying safe outside in winter. 

It’s September and that means it is HIGH time to start preparing for winter. Costco has their gloves and hats out, Christmas decor is usually up right around now and its a great reminder to get your act together while the getting’s good. 

Today I’m going to start with the basics!  How should you plan to dress here in winter?  

It will vary across the season, with peak winter gear needed in January when we often see stretches of well below zero weather.  Our seasons are pretty prompt here, with a definite change in the air that hits right at the 3 month mark of any season.  I’m recording this at the beginning of September, and the weatherman here pointed out that we have just seen our last after 8pm sunset until next April and that means that we are on our way into fall.  Our temps have been in the mid-50’s overnight lately (and I LOVE IT) with highs in the mid 70’s. Northern MN has the high 30’s for overnight temps – winter is coming!

I don’t mind the short days (in the depths of winter it’s starting to get dark here by around 4:30 and it won’t be light til well after 8am), I sleep well in winter! I may be part bear. We do have the flip side in summer with extremely long days, so if that’s your cup of tea you’ll have it to look forward to. 

Everyone has their own definition of cold, but I would say that it starts to get cold at the end of October (highs in the 30’s lows in the 20’s overnight).  We often see at least some snow around Halloween. And fun fact – if you see snow it means it’s NOT THAT COLD.  It actually will NOT snow when it is truly cold here, there needs to be some moisture in the air to achieve snow and intense cold is also intensely DRY. 

Your mom may have mentioned wearing LAYERS to you, and she knew what she was talking about.  If you’ll be outside in very cold weather you should plan to have 3 layers on. The first layer is a snug base layer. Do not wear cotton as it holds moisture and having damp skin or clothes is dangerous. Pick a synthetic material that wicks moisture away from the skin. 

Your second layer should be your fleece or other clothing (sweater, sweatshirt, something!) that insulates and holds pockets of warm air close to your body. Do you need 2 layers on your legs -yep! If it’s cold, having warm legs makes a world of difference. I feel like there is an artificial focus on the upper body for warmth, but having your legs warm (I mean 50% of your body?!) makes a HUGE difference in comfort if you’re going to be outside.

My dogs don’t seem to mind cold weather at all and still want their walks, and having snow pants on changes everything. They come in varying styles and weights.  I’m a dork and wear the thick (and WARM) snow pants you see on kids. You probably have more shame/fashion sense than me and You can get some “sleeker” pants that insulate and block wind, those can be pricey but you’ll look as amazing as you CAN look while wearing snow pants. If I’m going to be out walking dogs or clearing the sidewalk I’ll wear a base layer – long johns, leggings or even tights – and then pull the snow pants over that and I’m super comfy. 

Final layer! You’ll want something WIND and WATER proof! These two elements can literally be the death of you if you don’t prepare. Down is a wonderful insulating material but if it gets wet, it’s worse than useless. Blocking wind and water will be what keeps you feeling toasty warm. And when I say water – I don’t mean rain.  Snow can be quite wet and soak right through your coat. I can think of nothing worse than being cold and wet at the same time.

man wearing parka
Photo by Dan Smith on Pexels.com

When looking at coats for actual winter weather here, you probably want a parka vs a “jacket”.  A parka is generally longer and will cover your backside better. I would actually say that having both is not a bad idea. If you’re running around doing errands and will be in and out of the car and heated spaces you can scurry around in your jacket and be fine, but for warmth – I like a parka. Parkas also come with hoods (often detachable) and when the wind is ripping around I’ll use it. If you buy from a quality place they often have ratings on their winter items and you can see that clothing is rated to X degrees below zero. You’ll need that in winter. My favorite combination is down with a wind and waterproof shell.

For your extremities, you definitely need a beanie or tuque (interchangeable – you’ll hear both words!), gloves or if you really want warm hands, get mittens. Having your digits all together in one pocket of fabric makes for a much warmer hand. Feet should have wicking socks. The best are wool or smart wool (they aren’t itchy – I promise!) and then boots that are insulated and waterproof. I see lots of feet looking stylish and warm in Sorel’s but North Face are super popular here as are less expensive brands like Lands End. 

man looking left side
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels.com

My husband hates the cold and we also stock up on the hand warmer things in winter and he will keep those in his pocket when walking the dogs or clearing.  So if you tend toward the chilly side, that’s another option. 

My last tip is don’t wait! When winter things appear in the store, buy them. They disappear pretty fast next thing you know it’s -20 and the stores are stocked with swim suits for spring break. 

I’ll do another post and video for driving and dealing with cold in general shortly, I also did one a while back on getting your house ready for winter, you can check out my YouTube Playlist for life in Minneapolis and you’ll see that!

Home Buying · Living in Minneapolis · Real Life Relocation · Uncategorized

Moving to MN from St. Louis MO

I specialize in helping people relocate to MN from other parts of the United States and the world thanks to people finding me on my YouTube channel. It’s a niche that I love to serve, people are choosing Minnesota and I love to welcome them here.

I know that this can be a difficult thing to do – uprooting your life to make a change to a completely different everything! The climate, the people, the way that Minnesotans live – which is very much OUTDOORS. Many people make the choice for that very reason. One of the other themes that I hear often is affordability and high quality of life.

If you’re curious about the perspective of this couple, what things felt like challenges, how they overcame those, what made them choose MN, what surprised them when they got here and what they have enjoyed so far, you’ll probably enjoy this video!

If this is a move you are considering making and you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask! It’s what I do day in and day out. 🙂

Living in Minneapolis · Neighborhood Tours

The Armatage Neighborhood in SW Minneapolis!

I’m sticking closer to home today and taking you on a tour of the Armatage neighborhood in Southwest Minneapolis!  If you want to see what the homes and area look like – watch this video!

Homes in the Armatage neighborhood began to be built in the 1940s, and by 1960 most of the neighborhood was estab­lished. The homes in the area really reflect the time period, a lot of post-war (WWII!) bungalows and as the construction reached the ’60’s they began putting up what Minnesotans call “ramblers” and the rest of the country calls “ranch” homes. You still see some 1 car garages, and most garages are accessed off the alley which gives the street and yard areas of the homes a really beautiful feel because they aren’t broken up with driveways, cars and trashcans.

Easy commutes!

Prices

I did a comparison of median home prices for Armatage and the surrounding areas including Edina which is the suburb which borders the neighborhood on the west, the Kenny neighborhood to the east and the city of Minneapolis over all. You can see where Armatage stacks up and how it compares to prices in the city overall. 

The highest priced home on the market in Armatage today is a house that was originally built in 1948, but has since undergone a complete renovation and has had a second floor added. It was priced at $799,900. It has 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, a 4 car garage and nearly 3,000 sf. This is not a typical home in the area, but we have seen a lot of homes pop upward like this as people try to stay in the neighborhood but want more living space than the 1940’s or 1950’s bungalows provide. 

A more typical house for sale right now is a bungalow priced near the median at $445K, built in 1951 and still reflecting the character of the day. It has about 2000 sf and has 3 beds, 3 baths and a 2 car garage. The lowest priced home I saw currently listed is at $285, a 3 bed, 1 bath home that has been used as a rental and can probably use a bit of TLC. 

Neighborhood association

Armatage has a very active neighborhood association and they hold several events throughout the year including a chili cook off, a holiday light display competition, free movies in the park in summer, a fire-on-ice winter celebration with bonfires and ice skating at the park rink, food truck nights and a summer festival.  If you have children the park district  has after school programs through community education at Armatage Park Community Center and they also have all day programming there throughout the summer. 

children s team building on green grassland
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

In addition to the focus on kids, the community center also hosts events like “Tech Help for Seniors” and a community garden tool swap. 

Schools

boy in green shirt
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

Children in the neighborhood are currently zoned for Armatage Elementary (formerly a Montessori magnet school) In 1952, the Armatage Community School was built, children move on to Susan B Anthony Middle School which is International Baccalaureate School, and then Southwest High School. 

Neighborhood Amenities

Armatage has a close community feel and has the benefit of easily accessible local favorites for restaurants including Pizzeria Lola, Red Wagon Pizza, Book Club, Colita, &  Cafe Ceres. It’s a quick ride to shopping to Edina for Southdale Mall or any of the surrounding shops and restaurants including the Galleria for more upscale shopping. Groceries are easy to find at nearby Lunds and Byerly’s or Kowalskis, or if you’re just down the street in Edina you can hit Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Costco people will find the St. Louis Park location the closest – but in my opinion it’s also the craziest one – always mobbed and worth it to drive to Eagan or Eden Prairie instead. 

cup of aromatic cappuccino on table in cafe
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

In addition to the large community park, Armatage is well located to reach the paths around Lake Harriet or Minnehaha Creek. As with all areas of Minneapolis, there is a large focus on bicycling and public streets have bike lanes which are heavily used. The city of Minneapolis also has sidewalks lining both sides of the street so you’ll be safe if you decide to walk up to the lake or creek as well. 

white bicycle road sign
Photo by Cristiana Raluca on Pexels.com

If you’re curious about other area of the city or suburbs, check out my playlist on YouTube! I cover a bunch of them and I’m always adding more, if there is an area that you’re interested in and you don’t see a video – reach out and I may add it to the list, but can at least answer questions. 

Living in Minneapolis

Is MN affordable? Cost of Living update Minneapolis 2022

A lot of people say that they choose to move to Minneapolis because it’s a nice sized city with an affordable cost of living. Most of the people that I work with are moving to Minnesota from out of state and are often coming from more expensive parts of the country. But not everyone is! Today I want to take a look at the cost of living in the Twin Cities and how it compares to some other areas that I see people coming from as well as other cities in the Midwest.

How is Cost of Living determined?

“Cost of living” is a term used by economists and it’s actually an INDEX, so every place in the US is compared to the national average, which is considered 100%.  If a city has a cost of living lower than the national average, it will be expressed as some percentage less than 100 and a higher than the national average cost of living will be a number that expresses HOW MUCH higher than the national average it is as in 100+ x%.

Cost of living in Minneapolis

The magic number for Minneapolis is close to 103% of the national average. This index is broken down into segments like housing, transportation, food, and entertainment and then the number given is the one that consolidates all of these.

Having a cost of living index of 103% of the national average is really a comforting number if you’re looking for an affordable city! I’m going to give you the current COL #’s for other cities in the US as well as cities specifically in the Midwest so you can see how we stack up. Remember that this is looking at ALL areas of the country and typically urban areas are much more expensive. 

Housing

black handled key on key hole
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Housing is the most expensive part of nearly everyone’s budget. Minneapolis is at 117% of the national average. If you’ve ever seen one of my market update videos you’ll understand what drives that, but its a combination of low housing supply, low interest rates and a big bubble of first time buyers that are hitting the market right now.

Food

Here in Minneapolis we are right near the national average for food pricing, sitting at 101% of the national average. 

info from Numbeo 2/6/22

Transportation

For transportation costs, Minneapolis sits higher than the national average at 108%. This includes an average of cost of gasoline, car insurance and maintenance expenses, and mass transit fare for the area. I was a little surprised by this one because I just returned from a trip to NE Ohio and gas prices were consistently higher than what I have paid in MN everywhere east of us. According to AAA, auto fuel prices in MN are LOWER than the national average. 

info from AAA

Healthcare

computer desk laptop stethoscope
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Healthcare is at a wonderful 75% of the national average!  The past couple of years have shown us all how important this piece is for everyone, and not only are our costs lower here, but we also have access to some of the best healthcare in the world with the Mayo Clinic being located within easy driving distance of Minneapolis and many high quality hospital systems within the twin cities area itself.

Micellaneous Costs

people in concert
Photo by Sebastian Ervi on Pexels.com

Miscellaneous costs come in at 108% these include those goods and services not included in the other cost of living categories, including clothing, restaurants, repairs, entertainment, and other services.

Compared to other large metros across the US

If we compare Minneapolis to large metro areas like New York, San Diego, or Chicago we see that, no surprise, it’s more affordable here.

Housing in NYC is 441% HIGHER than Minneapolis, and cost of living there is 141% higher, San Diego is 35% higher overall with housing 110% higher, and Chicago – where I came from – is 15% higher overall but housing in particular is 54% higher than Minneapolis. 

Housing is the biggest driver of whether an area is affordable or not – we all need a roof over our heads! 

Coming from Texas

I see a lot of people coming to Minneapolis from Texas, most commonly the Austin area, but definitely from all over and Austin is actually coming in at 4% less expensive than Minneapolis. Rents are higher in Austin, but median price to purchase a home is slightly lower there. 

Other Midwestern Cities

Looking closer to home, at smaller cities in the Midwest, Madison WI is actually MORE expensive to live in than Minneapolis – housing is 8% higher, food 3% more expensive and healthcare a whopping 19% more expensive. 

Minnesotans will definitely question why anyone would pay MORE to live in Wisconsin. I mean. It just doesn’t make sense. 

Milwaukee WI (if you love your Pabst!) is the bargain area with overall costs being 2% less, but still getting you where it hurts if you need to go to the dr. 

Bargain Cities of the Midwest

Saint Louis has a 17% lower cost of living index than Minneapolis. Everything from housing, transportation, entertainment is lower – they do come in slightly higher on food and Des Moines Iowa is also a bargain, coming in with a lower cost of living on every metric and the net saving is 24%!

grey arc building under blue sky
Photo by Brittany Moore on Pexels.com

If you have questions about living in or moving to Minneapolis or the twin cities reach out! I’m happy to help! If you’re curious about different neighborhoods or suburbs, check out my playlist on my YouTube channel where I talk about exactly that!

Living in Minneapolis

5 things that SHOCKED me when I moved to Minnesota!

Maybe the words “confused” or “amused” would also work to describe our reactions… 😉

I held a lot of stereotypes in my head about Minnesota but I also had a pretty large black hole where Minnesota information might have been if I had given Minnesota much thought at all before moving here… but I hadn’t. 


Disclaimer out front – we LOVE living in Minnesota. I’m probably going to get ridden out of here on rails for this video/post, but I’m still going to do it! I am not a native, I’ve lived in Ohio, Michigan, Atlanta GA, Chicago IL and now I’m here, so I’m just coming at this with the eye of an outsider, and I’m sharing it with you. 

#1 STATE PRIDE 

The first thing that struck us when we moved here was that Minnesotans are extremely proud of their state.  I have lived in SEVERAL other states as I mentioned and in none of them has there been this level of state branding worn by the residents.  People wear Minnesota gear ALL THE TIME. I don’t mean gear for just the sports teams, I mean it’s like school spirit day every day because people wear clothing & hats, put bumper stickers on their cars, there is Minnesota themed artwork in their homes –  you name it! All proudly proclaiming that they live in, and LOVE living in, Minnesota. It’s everywhere.  Also, Minnesotans do not tolerate a less than favorable comparison to another state very well, even just a hint of one. 


If there is any glory to be had, even if it’s tied by the very finest of threads, they will mention it. If someone does something notable and their uncle’s in-laws cousin once removed is from MN – well, good enough! Minnesota can lay claim. I really like it here too, I think a lot of this is somewhat justified. BUT this is a video about what stood out to me as an outsider and it is a very noticeable trait when you’re not from around these parts. 


One of my Minnesota born and bred friends explained that Minnesotans are a little sensitive about being in fly-over country, it’s a little out of the way if you’re from the coasts, and it hurts to have your exceptional light dimmed by the fact of geography. The place has a lot going for it and if you know, you know. But if you don’t know …you may be tempted to step in it a bit and not give credit where Minnesotans believe that credit is due. 🙂  If you’re on Twitter follow the account “Indignant Minnesotan” – whoever this is gets it.


#2 Infrastructure 

One thing that I was surprised by, and am now ecstatic over is that the infrastructure of the Twin Cities and the state as a whole is built very intentionally around helping people enjoy being outside. It took me a while to put my finger on it even though I take advantage of this nearly daily.  It’s just so EASY to be a part of the natural beauty and lakes that surround us whether it’s on foot, on bikes or in the water itself.  Chicago had some of this on the lake front, but MN has it EVERYWHERE.  It feels like Minnesotans are born feeling that being outside and having easy access to it is their birthright. 

scenic view of lake in forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


I absolutely LOVE this characteristic and I can’t believe how deeply integrated this is into most of the state – at least the parts that I’ve been in so far.  There are bike trails absolutely everywhere. City, suburb or exurb.  The lakes are an extension of the way people live here and a lot of parks have ways for you to enjoy the water whether it’s through beaches, boat rentals, paddle boards, keeping them cleared for skating and pond hockey in winter or making them accessible for fishing.  Much of the northern part of the state is forest or borders on Lake Superior and the parks and cabins that are available for spending time outside up there are extensive. Trails are used year round, for hiking, fat tire bikes, skiing, or snow mobiling. 

three men riding on bicycles
Photo by Dorothy Castillo on Pexels.com


#3 Cabin culture

This one isn’t too much of a shock based on the last one, but cabin culture here is strong. People clear out of the city pretty much every weekend through the summer to head up to the cabin. All summer long you’ll see lots of photos of people having fun outside at lakes and cabins and you can enjoy easier access to just about everything in the city because no one is here.We don’t have a cabin, but I imagine that would be nice. 😉 but in the meantime, I’ll just be here in Minneapolis enjoying fewer people at the things I want to visit. 

food wood man vacation
Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com


4. The weather! 

Everyone thinks COLD when they think of Minnesota, what they don’t tell you is how ridiculously HOT it gets here in the summer.  The month of July is like a sauna. Super humid and super hot, it’s just gross.

man in black shirt drinking water from plastic bottle
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I am a cold weather person, I like to enjoy the moderate days and the sun for a few months but cold weather makes me happy inside. So July is not my favorite. We moved from Chicago which is significantly further south and it is significantly hotter here in the summer.  I like to tell my friends and family in Ohio when they start talking about how awful our weather here must be in the winter that it’s about 10 degrees colder in winter and 10 degrees hotter in summer. 

Most states talk about snow days for school. You aren’t likely to see that here. Kids go to school in the winter. The potential for kids being called off school for weather comes in when spring hits or the early fall when kids start back to school for a “heat day”. When it’s hot out with no AC in some of the schools, it’s intolerable and kids stay home (or go to the lake!).   We do get the occasional day called off for cold or snow too, MPS calls school when its -35F or colder with wind chill or if, there is an extra large and fast snowfall. Whatever you imagine this to mean – double it. 


5. The FAIR.

Minnesotans are OBSESSED with their state fair.  They call it the Great Minnesota Get Together. They love the rides, the CROWDS, the “pronto pups” aka corn dogs and the “sweet martha’s cookies”. People will go to the state fair multiple times during the week that it’s running. This is not an inexpensive endeavor, in 2021 they are honoring 2020 admission tickets. You’re best bet is riding one of the buses from the various park and rides rather than trying to find a place to park.  It’s a relatively inexpensive ticket and gets you there and back easily pretty much whenever you want to go. 

people riding carousel in park
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com


I don’t love it.

I keep trying.

I worry that there is something wrong with me, but then I think – I can’t be the only one that doesn’t love it! There must be more like me! I think we all try to keep it to ourselves to avoid the gasps of astonishment and confusion. 

It’s not personal Minnesota! I just don’t like huge crowds!

If you like being smooshed together with vast swaths of Minnesotan humanity – give it a try!  The one thing I DO love about the fair is the annual  “Crop Art” competition just because it is just SO MINNESOTAN, and so creative. It amazed me all three times I went.

But now I like look at photos instead so I don’t need to be near all those people.   

Living in Minneapolis · Neighborhood Tours

Golden Valley Minnesota

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, real estate is BUSY right now but I have been working on a profile of Golden Valley & I wanted to share that with you.

I’ve been working with some buyers and we have been spending quite a bit of time in Golden Valley.  Housing in the Minneapolis area is very tight right now and the availability of homes anywhere near the median twin cities home price of $330,000 are hard to find and gone within a day or two, and Golden Valley has been a surprising source of homes in this price range. While it definitely ALSO has higher priced homes, this is still an area that can be considered “affordable” and it has a LOT to offer. And I am going to cover it ALL (or at least a LOT of it!) and I’ll answer the 2 surprising questions I get asked so often about just about every area of the metro. 


Golden Valley gets it’s name from flowing fields of wheat, fields of sunflowers OR Irish immigrants that had fond memories of the River Shannon. As a midwesterner, I’m going to put my money on the wheat.

People are HAPPY there…


The city does a periodic survey of it’s residents to find out how they feel about the community, and 98% of Golden Valley residents give the city an “excellent” or “Good” rating for quality of life. The three top reasons for the rating are Housing and Neighborhoods, People, and Government and Services. I can’t really look at the PEOPLE side of things but I will give you a look at housing and government services. FYI the last survey was in 2016 and here is the link if you care to read it. 


Golden valley is in the NW side of Minneapolis and it is very conveniently located to the city. Since it is a suburb, if you are someone that likes to get away to state’s lakes and cabins in the north and west, you won’t really have to fight the traffic to get there.  

Commute


If you need to commute to downtown and you are taking your own vehicle the drive is about 10-15 minutes.  If you don’t want to pay to park, or you are planning to just hit a Vikings or a Twins game downtown, in the (hopefully) not too distant future you should be able to hop on the newly extended Metro Transit Blue Line light rail extension that will go from downtown and stop in Golden Valley on the way to other NW ‘burbs.  This extension will follow a current railway that is in place and not involve any new tracks. 


If you want to head out of town entirely or have someone heading in to visit, it’s only a 20 minute drive to MSP Airport. 

Types of housing


Most homes in golden Valley were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. If you love midcentury modern architecture THIS is the place – street after street of midmod homes. Some have been updated to a more current aesthetic but others have some true authenticity to them.  There is a market for both!  You’ll see some newer homes in my video tour as well.  A benefit of older housing stock is that they usually built on larger lots than we see today and the landscaping is mature.  The other thing that stands out to me is that typically these neighborhoods have some variation among the homes, you don’t see a lot of the “cookie cutter” feel that you get in newer subdivisions. 


The median home price in May 2021 for Golden Valley is $374,150. This is higher than the Twin Cities Metro as a whole. I have been working with a few buyers that have budgets in the low to mid 300’s and we have found options here! 



What will you pay in property taxes to live in Golden Valley? 


Golden Valley is in Hennepin County which has an effective property tax rate of 1.28% (state average is 1.08%) and Golden Valley property tax is at an effective rate of 1.38%. 

Work


Several large corporations have nice leafy campuses here including the HQs of General Mills and Tennant Company as well as major US offices for  Allianz Insurance, Honeywell & Resideo.  

Parks


Golden Valley, like much of the twin cities, loves their green space and parks.  They are also the home of one of the best parks in the Twin Cities area – Theodore Wirth Regional Park.  It’s 740 acres of happiness and outdoor fun. I’m just going to give you the highlights – in summer enjoy the golf course, disc golf course, beach, walking and biking trails, archery, or fishing and in winter tubing, x-ctry skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowboarding, fat tire bike trails… 


15% of Golden Valley is PARK!  There are 2 off-leash dog exercise areas in outdoor hockey rinks at Gearty & Medley Parks, both  are FREE to use. Golden Valley does not require dog licenses, but they DO require a current rabies tag. 

curious golden retriever resting on grassy lawn
Photo by kira schwarz on Pexels.com


Part of the parks are TWO activity / community centers.  Lets start with the basic one – Davis Community Center attached to Meadowbrook Elementary. It’s a 10,000 sq foot gym space with open gym for basketball, pickleball, volleyball, kids gym activities and parks rec leagues. 

basketball team stacking hands together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


The crown jewel in Golden Valley is the BROOKVIEW Center.  It’s so pretty!  It started life as a private country club and was purchased by the city in the 1960’s.


There is a beautiful building with a bar and grill and lots of patio seating overlooking the golf course and lawn bowling courts. The city grooms trails for x-ctry skiing and fat tire bikes in winter and if you have little kids that are going nuts indoors and need to burn off energy you can take them to the indoor play space at Brookview and buy yourself some sanity for about $5-$6/day depending on whether you’re a resident or not. 

Schools


Let’s talk about schools – Golden Valley does not have a school district of its own, residents in Golden Valley will send their children to either Robbinsdale Schools OR Hopkins Schools depending on the address of the home.  If you have a preference, it’s important to do your research up front and figure out what will work for you and make sure your home is where it needs to be to be in district.  One school that stood out to me is the Perpich school for the arts – its the tuition free state arts high school and if you have a child who is an artist and this is what they are drawn to more than anything, it might be a place to consider! Seems like such a valuable asset to have this available to students who are serious about the arts.  They even have a residence hall!

Library


Golden Valley has a small branch of the Hennepin County Library system.  The architecture fits with the rest of the town – very midcentury.  Despite it’s smaller size, every branch has access to the enormous number of books within the library system which includes 41 branches including the main branch downtown ad larger satellite branches like Southdale.  They will also request books and other material for you from libraries throughout the state via interlibrary loan. 


OK! Here it is! the TWO QUESTIONS I get asked ALL the time! 


1. Can I fence my yard?  YES – unless your’e in an HOA community that won’t allow it or has some restrictions, you may fence your yard!  Front yards may have a 4′ limit and back yards 6″ high, but see the city web site for rules. 
2. Can I have CHICKENS? YES! Up to 4 HENS per lot. Hennepin county municipalities have nearly all agreed to allow yard birds. 


And last thing – if you have chickens you won’t need much of this because they LOVE veggie scraps, but if you live in Golden Valley they do include municipal composting with trash pick up.  We separate compostables into green bins here and it goes to a large composting facility.  The beauty of this is the ability to compost meat or dairy which aren’t a good idea in backyard composting bins. 


That is ALL I have for Golden Valley today!  If you have questions – reach out! I’d love to chat and see how I can help you. 

Living in Minneapolis

Things you NEED to know BEFORE you move to Minnesota!

If you’re thinking about moving to Minnesota, there are probably some things that you don’t even realize you need to know. I’m here to help. 🙂

Minnesota Liquor Laws

I moved here from Chicago, and I think the motto there was something like “keep everyone drunk so they don’t notice the high taxes”. There were very few constraints on when or where you could buy alcohol. I was so confused when I couldn’t buy beer on Sunday here – AT ALL.

photo of beer neon signage
Photo by Alex Knight on Pexels.com

Here in Minnesota, you won’t be seeing people crawl home after being at the bar til 4am like you might in Wrigleyville. Liquor can be served here Monday – Saturday 8am-2am, and on Sunday, they hope you hit the 8 am service before you hit the bar between 10am and 2am. In 2017 the Minnesota legislature finally came to their senses and decided that adults should be allowed to decide for themselves if they wanted to buy Devil juice on Sunday and allowed Sunday liquor store sales.

They aren’t going to make it convenient for you though! You will not be grabbing a bottle of wine to have with dinner while you’re at the grocery store. NOPE! You need to go to an actual liquor store to buy your beverage. There are a lot of them, and they do tend to locate close to grocery stores, but it still annoys me. Hot recommendation for one of the best liquor stores I’ve seen- if you are in SW Minneapolis and want a great selection of micro-brews, craft alcohols, and wine stop into South Lyndale Liquors. The people there are super helpful and the variety is just amazing.

Taxes

Everyone’s favorite word! And top of mind for me as we get close to April 15. I feel like I just did my taxes thanks to the extension that we were given last year.

heap of american money cash and vintage light box
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Sales Tax I’m not really much of a shopper (if you meet me you’ll notice my meager wardrobe), but even I had heard about the magic that is shopping for clothing in Minnesota! No sales tax on clothing here – the price is the price! Other items not subject to tax are groceries, prescriptions, and diapers. Everything else has a sales tax of 6.875%, but counties and municipalities may add taxes of their own. Harkening back to Chicago, it was about a 10% premium to buy a burrito after you had your beer in Chicago. (Can you feel the indigestion?)

Property Tax OK, I will continue to compare MN (favorably) to IL here. When we moved here people would frequently make complaints about property taxes. We were confused since the homes we were looking at were like twice the size and half the taxes. Lake County IL has an effective tax rate of about 2.83%, Hennepin county MN is at 1.28%, so you can see why we were thrilled! For a $300,000 home that’s a BIG difference! $8,490 year vs $3,840. The median home price in the Twin Cities metro area is about $309,000.

Let’s look at it regionally and at a state level. Here is a grid of how we compare to our immediate neighbors. We look pretty good!

StateRate
Minnesota1.08%
National Average1.07%
North Dakota.99%
South Dakota1.22%
Iowa1.53%
Wisconsin1.68%

Vehicle Tax Sales taxes are applied when you purchase major items like cars. But the tax I’m thinking of here is the vehicle registration tax – when you get new tags each year in MN the least amount you will pay is $44. The minimum charge is $25 + other fees for cars over the age of 11. MN takes the MSRP of the car and reduces it by 10% each year to determine the tax for tax renewal, so if you buy an expensive car you’ll expect to pay a bit for tags as well.

Airports!

Minnesota actually has FOUR international airports! Ranked by size they are:

Minneapolis/ St. Paul Airport in the Twin Cities. This airport is enormous. Nearly 40,000,000 people fly into or out of MSP every year, which is over 400,000 flights! 87,000 people are employed in some way through MSP. 11 major airlines fly into MSP, Delta, American, and United have major presences in Terminal 1, and Terminal 2 is largely dominated by Southwest.

If you have kids, there is a fun drive-up viewing area to watch planes take off and land, it has parking and picnic tables and can be an entertaining lunch time activity with (or without) kids.

Duluth International Airport Delta, United and Sun Country Airlines fly into and out of Duluth. If you fly out of or into Duluth, you’ll most likely be connecting in Detroit, Minneapolis or Chicago.

Greater Rochester International Airport United, Delta, American, Southwest, and JetBlue are major carriers that serve this airport. They have MANY flights in and out every day. I imagine that this airport exists in support of the world renowned Mayo Clinic.

Finally, the International Falls International Airport. International Falls is a smaller city and they have an international airport because they border directly with our neighbor to the north. They have daily connecting flights to MSP airport on Delta Airlines. I’m charmed by the fact that the web site touts that the airport has vending machines. It’s a small airport, but critical to that region of the state. I am a fan of small airports, because the hassle level is so much smaller, you’re treated like a person not a herd animal.

Gardening

This was a tough one for me, even coming from a northern state like Illinois. I love flowers and like to have home grown tomatoes. The lower third of Minnesota falls into zone 4a for gardening. We don’t plant anything til after the threat of last frost which is Mothers Day. That can feel like an eternal wait at times. So plan on controlling the urge to plant until middle to late May and know that mid September to early October is likely the latest that you can plan to see tender annuals survive.

pink petaled flowers
Photo by Joseph Yu on Pexels.com

If you decide to plant perennials, I would recommend that you be extra cautious and select a hardiness to zone 3. If you like home grown vegetables, and you’re thinking of things like tomatoes and peppers, plan to either start them inside or buy plants that have had a head start so they have time to produce for you before the frost. Of course, cool weather crops have a really happy life here – cabbage, hardy greens like kale and swiss chard do well. I’ve also had great success with herbs, even planted from seed.

Seasons

country road during autumn
Photo by Alex Dayawon on Pexels.com

I’ve said it before, but one of the things that I truly love about Minnesota is that there are four TRUE seasons here! I love them all, but I’m usually ready for the next one when the time comes. The seasons are pretty prompt and take their place right on schedule every 3 months (even though sometimes a season can seem eternal – like a really harsh winter that doesn’t want to quit).

One thing to know is that while MN has a reputation for cold, don’t be surprised in summer when it gets HOT and humid. Spring turns to summer like someone flipped a switch. We have a pretty good stretch of days in the summer that are in the high 80’s and low 90’s. You may not need your AC ALL summer, but there are days when you’ll be very grateful to have it.

Natural Disasters

Sticking with the weather theme, what should you be prepared for? Other areas of the country have things that they are known for – California wild fires, hurricanes on the coast, but these aren’t concerns here.

white clouds over blue sea
Photo by Raychel Sanner on Pexels.com

Things that we worry about (and maybe hope for depending on how old your roof is) are hail storms, severe thunderstorms and tornados. I, personally, want to have a basement to hide in when tornado season is in full swing, and most homes here have them. If you don’t have a basement, head to an interior room without windows if possible. A bathroom with tiled walls work, get into the tub, and if you have a mattress of something that you can put over your heads to protect your head, even better.

In Minneapolis and much of Minnesota, we test our tornado sirens every month on the first Wednesday. This day is my dogs’s worst nightmare and it happens regularly. You should be aware of what day it is and know that we never actually have tornados at 1pm on the first Wednesday of the month. Or at least we hope not, because no one gets alarmed at that particular alarm.

Two sides of the same natural disaster coin are flood and drought. There isn’t much you can do about a drought, but knowing if you’re buying in a flood plain can be very helpful when you’re looking at property and knowing if you need to have flood insurance or not. Our multiple listing service gives us the flood status of lots, but if you’d like to check yourself you can go to the FEMA website and take a look.

Roads

Unlike South Dakota which basically has a sign at the border saying that the speed limit is 80, and don’t let us catch you exceeding that or you’re in deep doodoo, Minnesota has lots of different rules about how fast you can go and when.

photo of empty road in between grass field during golden hour
Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

On rural interstates, the speed limit is 70 MPH, urban expressways and interstates it drops to 65. Other main highways are at 55mph, and when you enter an urban area you can plan on the speed limit being 30. Unless you’re on a neighborhood street in Minneapolis in which case you better know that it’s 20.

We have a lot of potholes here because of the changing weather conditions and you should keep an eye out for them unless you don’t mind getting a flat or having your teeth come down hard on your tongue. People joke about there being 2 seasons, winter and road construction, but there is really only one season – road construction.

We thought moving here would mean moving to a place that had a good handle on snow removal, but I’ve found that it varies widely. In the city of St. Paul it can feel like every man for himself. Suburbs and outer areas handled by the state tend to do a better job clearing with plows and salt or a salt/grit combo. I’m writing this in peak grit season as the snow has melted and it leaves behind the grit. LOTS OF GRIT. It’s unavoidable and annoying, but I appreciate the traction in winter. Hot tip – get an all wheel drive car that has some weight to it and you’ll probably be ok driving on our roads. 😉

Staying warm (or cool)

I’ve been in other parts of the country that seem to rely on electricity to provide heat, but here in Minnesota we primarily use natural gas and forced air furnaces. If you have a forced air furnace you’re also likely to have, or be able to easily install, central air conditioning.

Older homes use radiant heat, either through baseboard radiators, radiant floor heat or the traditional style cast iron radiators that you may have seen. I’m a fan because it’s a constant warm heat rather than a blower clicking on and off all the time, but there are downsides. No ductwork available for the AC, and the air may get very dry in your home.

If you do have radiant heat and still want AC your choices are the old school window units or you can have an attic condenser unit and they will put round ducts in the ceiling for it, or what is called a “mini split” that is kind of a rectangle shaped AC unit installed on the wall. Retrofitting an old home for AC can be a little pricey and it’s important to think about that when you’re considering how you like to live in a home.

cozy fireplace in light minimalist living room
Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Many people in Minnesota have wood stoves in their homes – we have one! They are a nice addition for mood and heat, but it’s totally an extra that we enjoy, not the way we heat our house. The beauty of a wood stove is that the heat stays in the home, and they are made of cast iron which retains and radiates the heat, so you get that glow and warmth without the heat loss that you can have with a regular fireplace.

What else are you curious about? How does this seem different from where you live now?

Living in Minneapolis · Uncategorized

MINNESOTA IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a couple of reasons – the first is that I wonder if my enthusiasm for Minnesota leads to blinders about things that people may not like? And the other is me thinking about times when I have lived in other places and have just felt slightly “off”. I was OK there, but it really didn’t feel like MY place. So here are some things to think about before you make the leap!

Weather

It is no secret that Minnesota gets cold. It’s kind of our claim to fame. It’s also a topic that I sometimes hear talked about with some level of fear or worry. I suppose that is as valid of a feeling as any other, but in my experience if you look it in the face and just know that “hey – that’s a big part of living here” and prepare yourself, you’re a step ahead.

Figure out how you can make it work for you. Learn a new winter sport, decide that you like puffy, down-filled fashion statements, and, if you REALLY don’t like being outside (which I think is unfortunate – Minnesota is really beautiful, even in winter! It’s just not “glamorous” beautiful. And to me – that is a bonus!) anyway – if you REALLY don’t like being outside, then you’ll need to figure out ways that you can be happy by being inside. Finding a place to walk indoors, join a gym, find an indoor sports league – there are a lot of them for adults including fun games that aren’t insane (hi hockey! looking at you!) like pickleball.

Yes! I know I’m writing this during a pandemic and this is all limited right now, but hope in the form of a vaccine is on it’s way! Another side note that I hope looks super quaint super quick is that our state vaccinated more than 40,000 people in one day yesterday and numbers are going up quickly, so hopefully we can put this behind us.

The other thing that I have (easily) embraced in winter is seeking the cozy. We like to build a fire in the wood stove in the evening, light candles, have warm drinks – anything that gives you that cozy feeling at home. It can be hard to go out when it gets dark early in winter, but if you’re a person that likes and needs to be around a lot of people (when this is over) make sure you get that cozy feeling from the inside of a bar or restaurant.

If your brain is giving an existential scream at the thought of several months of cold… Minnesota may not be the right place for you.

Landscape

lots of the left side in the west, lots of the right in the north
LAKES everywhere, WATER everywhere

If you need to see mountains or rolling hills, this may not be the place for you. It’s not exactly flat, but the south & western side of the state is nearly flat. It’s farm land for the most part and that part of the state is bordering on the beginning of the Great Plains. The south and eastern side is more rolling as it is part of the “kettle moraine” area where the glaciers receded and left “puddles”. One of the towns I want to profile because I’m a little in love with what I’ve seen online (haven’t been there myself yet!) is Lanesboro, MN. Charming small town on a river, there are bluffs and lots of trees and interesting terrain.

The area that is probably most well known outside the city is the “north shore”. This is some wild country bordering Lake Superior and Canada in what we call the “arrowhead” of the state. Lots of dense forests, and not a lot of people once you’re outside of Duluth. Some of the towns up that way cater to people going out on the Boundary Waters. The northern part of the state has a lot of lakes and that is where people head on the weekends here, “up nort”.

*I* think the landscape is pretty, but I know people that have said they just feel too exposed without a lot of hills. To which I say – seek a home elsewhere where you can be happy!

Color

Lake Superior on the right … Split Rock Lighthouse

You have to be able to appreciate a more stark type of beauty to like living in MN – at least in the winter.

MN loses a lot of it’s color in winter too – it goes from very vibrantly colored deep green to fairly monochromatic. Winter makes me think in white, dark purples, violet and bright cold blue. Many times it’s also gray. We can go days in a row without a lot of sun, but plenty of clouds. You have to know that you’ll have those days. The silver lining to it is that clouds hold in the heat, so if you have a cloudy day, you’re likely having a warmer day! Every time I think of the phrase “bright side of life” I get Monty Python stuck in my head. Do yourself a favor and listen to that! 😉

Light

4:30 in winter…

We are a northern people. With that comes the tilt of the earth on its axis and the slant away from the sun in the winter. In December when we hit the winter solstice the sun sets around 4:45 and it doesn’t rise again til nearly 8. It’s a long period of darkness. Some people HATE that. I sleep well during winter, so I’m in favor. The flip side is that we get ridiculously long days in the sweet time of summer – the sun is up early around 5:30 and sets after 9:30 at night. So much time to be outdoors and enjoying the weather. And Minnesotans take advantage – we know what is coming and don’t waste summer and that beautiful light.

Some people that live here (and love it) still need to spend some time in front of a “happy light” during winter mornings as they have their coffee. I’m basically a mole and don’t mind the dim of winter. You need to think about how you react to that type of environment. A colleague here heads to Mexico in the beginning of December and stays through May – he needs the sun but wants to be back here in summer.

Progressive politics

OK – I normally stay faaaar away from this topic, but hey, it is what it is and I’m just giving you information that you can take or leave. Minnesota has a reputation for being a “blue” state. Our current governor is a Democrat. The metro areas lean progressive- Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.

As you move out across the suburbs the first rings are bluer than the exurbs and when you’re in rural MN, you are likely to be in some fairly solid red country. This is really no different than any other state if you look at demographics, but if you’re thinking of moving here to be in a blue bubble – well, that’s a stereotype and you’ll have to choose your home wisely.

Likewise, if you’re not feeling the progressive vibe, you are not alone, your people just tend to congregate in areas that are not as densely populated and I’m sure you’re not surprised by this news. Because MOST of the population of the state resides in the metro areas, and most of the people are progressives, you’ll likely also see policies that follow, but we do have loyal opposition in the form of a Republican controlled state Senate and that leads to a more balanced set of policies.

“Minnesota Nice”

I’m sarcastic and an introvert so people here don’t faze me, but you need to know that while people are “nice” they are also passive aggressive. That can be annoying if you let it. I don’t let it. I’m also going to add that sometimes there is a sense that MN has a lock on this attitude/behavior – NOPE. I lived in Atlanta. Land of “bless your heart” (“you idiot” = implied). I also did not find the famously hospitable south to be any more hospitable than any other place I’ve lived. People are people. You have to do the work when you’re new, it’s just a fact. That means you have to JOIN things and INVITE people to do stuff if you want to have friends outside of your house. I don’t think people are any more or less likely to knock on your door here and golly-gee you. Although I will say that when we moved here TWO of our neighbors dropped off food and offered a welcome. That IS two more than have ever done that anywhere else I’ve lived, so maybe it is nicer here?

Housing prices are high

It is not cheap to get into a home here. I don’t know if I’m the only one that was shocked by that information when I moved here, or not. Things are not easing at all, in fact they are getting worse as more buyers enter the market and the number of listings can’t meet the demand. People are staying in their homes longer, and here at least, people are reluctant to list until they have found a new place to live because the market is so tight that their home will be gone in a hurry and they may not find what they want from what is available. Add to all of that extremely low interest rates and people spending way too much time inside and you have demand that is insane. (If you’re thinking of listing – let me know lol! Not joking!) If you’ve ever taken a basic economics class you know that high demand + low supply = high prices.

I’m struggling to come up with anything else. I’m sure someone can help, ha ha! Comment below if you have a reason to stay the heck out of MN.

Living in Minneapolis

Winter in Minnesota – things to do OUTSIDE!

Believe it or not, Minnesotans LOVE winter! In other places I’ve lived the attitude has been MUCH different, people thought of winter as something to get through, not something to celebrate. That change in perspective makes ALL the difference, in my opinion. I’m especially grateful for the way that winter is embraced here this year as we look for ways to stay healthy and have fun while staying safe.

Today I’ll give you a list of 10 things that Minnesotans do to have fun OUTSIDE in the winter. Many of these are free or low cost ways to enjoy the season, and they range from simple to more adventurous.

Dog Sledding

Photo by cheptu00e9 cormani on Pexels.com

I’ll start with the one I most want to do this winter – mushing on a dog sled! We did a training run in a buggy in Alaska once and it was fun, but I want to do the real deal! There are several outfitters in northern MN that have excursions for regular people. They range from a short run to primitive camping trip accessed by dog sled. I’m not sure that I want to camp in winter, but it’s an option. I’d much rather stay somewhere like the Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais and let them handle the hard stuff while I enjoy the dogs and all of the other fun things they offer all year round.

Minnesota has several dogsled races if you prefer to watch! The John Beargrease Dog Sled Race is run out of Duluth at the end of January, you can head to Ely for the Wolftrack Classic in February, or check out the Gunflint Mail Run … in 2022. 2021 was nixed for our old enemy Covid.

SnowShoeing

Photo by Mau00ebl BALLAND on Pexels.com

Ok – lets bring this down to something closer to home and easier to access for an afternoon out: Snowshoeing! When the snow gets deep this is a great way to be able to head out an enjoy nature without struggling through snow up to your thighs. The good news about snowshoeing is that you can try it for FREE! Minneapolis Parks have loaners that you can sign out of their “Adventure Hubs”- check the Minneapolis Parks web site, Theodore Wirth Park has an amazing network of trails and they rent snow shoes for $12/day, several Minnesota State Parks also rent snow shoes – for a great price – only $6/day. I advise checking their website and calling in advance just due to potential Covid related closures.

Tubing

If you want more of a thrill and less of a workout, try snow tubing! Our family loves to go to Buck Hill every year and spend a couple of hours ripping downhill on a big inner tube. Buck Hill makes it easy because they have a conveyor style lift that you stand on with the tube behind you and you’re pulled to the top to start again. And at the bottom of the hill is a big bonfire that you can stand around to warm yourself and an outdoor kiosk that serves up hot cocoa. If snow if sparse they make their own, so there is never a reason not to go!

Skiing / Snowboarding

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

If tubing isn’t your cup of tea, Buck hill also has down hill skiing and snowboarding. This year you have to buy all your lift passes online before you go. There are lots of options for downhill skiing and snowboarding – the other two that come to mind are Afton Alps near Afton State Park and Hyland Hills ski area. A great option at Hyland Hills if you don’t want to buy a season pass, but think you’ll ski multiple times is a 10 or 6 visit pass. They both rent skis there as well as give lessons.

Nordic or cross country skiing is also very popular! You can rent skis at some parks, like Theodore Wirth, and enjoy miles of groomed trails of varying difficulty. Hyland Hills park also has extensive groomed ski trails and ski rentals as well.

Build a bonfire & make s’mores

Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. You can do this all winter. I walk my dog at night and often see people with fire pits in their driveways, sitting out in lawn chairs around it, chatting and having a drink, and roasting marshmallows. In winter. 🙂 If you like this enough to do it often, check out Solo stoves – they are smokeless fire pits that everyone seems to love and they look really slick too. Perfect for flexing at your neighbors.

Ice fishing

Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

This one holds ALMOST no attraction for me, except when I think about leaving my house and spending quiet time in another location. I don’t care about the fish.

People in MN LOVE being on the ice. If you get near a body of water in the winter, chances are it will be covered with ice shanties. People leave these little houses out on the ice all winter and hang out in them and fish. And you can catch some seriously large fish here if that’s what you’re into.

If you’re not ready for a shanty – drag your gear out onto the ice in a sled – some people set up little tents or just sit out there with a line through a hole in the ice and fish.

Visit the zoo.

Photo by Diego Madrigal on Pexels.com

OK, this one is a plan ahead because they are temporarily closed due to governor’s orders, BUT they are normally open all year and are a great way to spend time outside looking at the animals. We have two zoos to choose from in the Twin Cities – Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul is smaller and FREE. It’s a great zoo to go to if you don’t want to spend a whole day and deal with huge crowds, plus it’s close to home if you live in MPLS or STP.

The Minnesota Zoo is the Mac-Daddy zoo. It’s huge and you’ll have your day cut out for you. We were members for a while and one of the things that we liked was the area where you can pet the stingrays. We also loved the indoor tropical forest path, nice and warm and lots of clear panes on the animal habitats so that you could see them from a lot of angles and in little nooks.

Sledding

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I can’t even begin to guess how many sled hills there are in the metro area. I make a joke that it sounds like an amusement park at the park next to my house because the minute there is snow on the ground the hill is MOBBED with kids AND adults. No one can wait for this. This year I’m extra grateful to have this easy, fun, free and SAFE choice for my kid to gather with her friends outside. They head over there just about every day, and I feel great that they get fresh air, exercise, and social time. Most parks have a sled hill in them somewhere, and the one down the street doesn’t there will be one not far away – guaranteed!

Ice Skating

Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels.com

Another freebie for the most part! Almost every park sets up an outdoor skating area in the winter. They flood the field, set up boards for a hockey “arena”, and then leave lots of extra space around it for free skating. Parks in Minneapolis have warming houses where you can .. warm up! and change into and out of your skates. Lots of families donate skates that they have outgrown and the warming house has a wide selection of skates to borrow if you don’t have your own. You can also borrow hockey sticks and pucks if you have a pick-up game and I see adults out on the ice at night playing hockey all the time. Side note that Minneapolis has an ENORMOUS pond hockey tournament every (normal) year. It’s held on Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis. They set up nearly 30 rinks on the lake!

Winter Festival

If you are more of an extrovert than me and like hanging around a lot of people and maybe you miss that this year – good news! The St. Paul Winter Carnival happens at the end of January /beginning of February. As of now it is still on!

They are featuring a craft brew passport to try some of our great local beers, there is a drive through ice and snow sculpture park, ice fishing and softball tournaments (yes, in the snow!), fun run, art show and more.

That’s about it for now – I’ll be posting some indoor ideas soon!